Species: Canine   |   Classification: Techniques

Introduction Requirements Preparation Procedure Aftercare Outcomes Further Reading


  • Injection of positive contrast into circulation allows visualization of vascular system.



  • Relatively simple procedure.
  • Equipment available in general practice.
  • Good anatomical detail.


  • General anesthesia often required (and patient may be severely compromised).
  • Fluoroscopy required for selective angiography.

Alternative Techniques

  • Scintigraphy (allows assessment of vascular perfusion and ventilation perfusion ratio).
  • Ultrasonography for measurement of cardiac chamber size, presence of vascular shunts and thrombotic disease.
  • Fluoroscopy gives better visualization of dynamic lesions.

Time Required


  • 15 min.


  • 10 min.

Decision Taking

Criteria for choosing test

  • Is the examination appropriate?
  • Can you make the diagnosis without it?
  • Will your management of the case be affected by the outcome of the examination?

Risk assessment

  • For many conditions where vascular contrast studies are indicated the patient is likely to be clinically ill, eg pulmonary thromboembolism, therefore careful assessment of risks of anesthesia/sedation should be made.


Materials Required

Minimum equipment

  • X-ray machine that allows rapid multiple exposures to be made.
  • Cassette.
  • Processing facilities.
  • Protective clothing (lead apron) for radiographer.
  • Positioning aids (sandbags, cradle and ties).
  • Method of labelling film.
  • Cassette tunnel.

Ideal equipment

  • Rapid cassette changer to allow multiple exposures to be made.
  • Ability to process films during procedure so that repeat radiographs can be taken during course of study if required.
  • High output X-ray machine.
  • High definition screen.
  • Grid for examination of large dog.

Minimum consumables

  • Radiographic film.
  • Intravenous catheter (large bore; 20G).
  • Contrast agent (water-soluble, iodine-based).

Ideal consumables

  • Ideally non-ionic, low osmolar water-soluble contrast is used, eg iohexol as this is less likely to cause circulatory disturbances.



  • General anesthesia.

Other Preparation

  • Pre-place catheter in peripheral vein (for non-selective angiography), usually jugular or cephalic Cephalic catheterization.
  • Catheterization of specific region requires more experience and may need fluoroscopic guidance.



Step 1 - Control Films

  • Check exposure settings and processing.
  • Confirm positioning adequate.
  • Confirm diagnosis not apparent without contrast study.

Core Procedure


Step 1 - Non-selective angiography

  • Inject contrast agent 200 mg iodine/0.45 kg as rapidly as possible.
    In large dogs injection via the jugular is preferable to permit rapid infusion of large volumes required.

Step 2 - Selective angiography

  • Introduce bolus of contrast agent at specific site, eg cardiac chamber, renal artery.
    Fluoroscopy may be required to ensure catheter in correct site at time of injection.

Step 3 - Make exposure

  • Make exposure immediately after injection.
  • Exposure multiple films in rapid succession.



Step 1 - Assess radiographs

  • Has structure of interest been exposed during time of contrast presence?
  • If not, repeat films after second contrast injection.



Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Fox P R & Bond B R (1983) Non-selective and selective​ angiocardiography. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 13 (2), 259-272 PubMed.